A MELKSHAM swim coach took the Invictus Games by storm last month when the UK swimming team he coached came home with 46 medals and 19 wins from 29 events.
Former Blue Pool instructor Steve Fivash coached the national swimming team for the second annual Invictus Games, which saw injured military personnel from 13 countries compete in ten different sports.
The UK swimming team returned home with a haul of 19 gold, 17 silver, and 10 bronze medals from just 29 races, with at least one swimmer making the podium in every race. The team were by far the best performing and won over half of the available 87 medals.
Steve told Melksham Independent News, “The games went extremely well and it was so great to see the swimmers achieve things some of them thought they’d never be able to. They all rose to the occasion and, not only did they win all those medals, but all the finalists swam personal bests. As a coach I can’t ask for any more than that – everything else was a bonus!
“It’s hard to compare the Invictus Games to other events. There’s such a broad range of competition and success is measured differently for different athletes.
“That said, the progress made by all the swimmers since I started coaching them in January has been huge, and it’s entirely down to their commitment and engagement with the games. Being their coach has been an amazing and rewarding experience and I’d love to do it again.”
The games, set up by Prince Harry in 2015, were held this year in Orlando, Florida. Competitors are soldiers who have fought for or alongside the British Army and suffered life-changing physical or mental injuries.
Steve continued, “The competition was good at the games, and people really got behind the events. One moment that really stood out for me was watching archery, when a British archer hit a bullseye in a sudden death moment in the final, then his opponent missed by a quarter of an inch. To me, that’s the pinnacle of sport, no matter what level you’re playing at or what competition it is.
“Our team was swimming in a purpose-built Olympic pool with about 1,000 spectators. At a meet in England you’d be lucky to see a crowd of a few hundred; it was great to see people give so much support.
“I didn’t get to meet Prince Harry but I saw him walking around a lot! He was really enthusiastic and engaged so well with the athletes; he’s incredibly passionate about the games.”
Steve now returns to his job with British Para-Swimming, as he coaches swimmers preparing to head to Rio de Janeiro this September for the 2016 Paralympic Games.